Sidebar: Improving access to information

Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Reporting incidents and providing information on incident followup to the public has been an issue for the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board (CNLOPB), on several occasions. 

On Nov. 21, 2010, in the House of Assembly, then-MHA Kelvin Parsons asked about a situation that had arisen aboard the SeaRose production ship, where Husky Energy “evacuated 33 persons” because of a buildup of sour gas within two onboard tanks. 

The operator had to vent the highly toxic gas and, during that process, non-essential workers were sent home while essential workers were kept off the deck. 

The gas problem had been identified Nov. 18. It was reported to the board Nov. 19. 

It was reported to the public days later, by the CBC, leading to questions from Parsons in the House of Assembly.

The Telegram asked the CNLOPB to provide reports on that situation — both the report filed by the operator and the report completed by CNLOPB safety officers. Neither was provided.

Similarly, reports could not be provided on a Nov. 24, 2011 incident, when the supply ship Maersk Detector collided with and damaged the semi-submersible drill rig GSF Grand Banks, about 350 kilometres offshore. 

The CNLOPB is bound by a section of the Atlantic Accord Implementation Act that states documents that might include proprietary information cannot be made public, at least not without express consent from the operator. It is the same legislation cited in the debate over auditor general access to the board’s books.

Chairman and CEO Max Ruelokke has previously asked the section be reviewed, to improve the board’s transparency.

Director of communications Sean Kelly and chief safety officer Dan Chicoyne told The Telegram there is a desire to provide the public with more information, particularly after incidents are reported in the media. 

“We need to find a way to close that out and say this is what we did,” Kelly said.

He said work is underway to develop a way information can be provided to assure the public that there has been followup on major incidents.


Organizations: Husky Energy, CBC

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